Flash Friday 02/09/2016: Only One With A Clue
Detective Hall examined the corpse’s face, turning it left and right. “And you said you know what killed him?”
“That’s right,” one of the three policemen on-guard said. “Rat poison. We did a search on the premises and found this.”
Hall took the bottle that was handed to him. It looked like a regular-sized beer bottle without any label. “In this?”
“That’s right, sir. We managed to get in touch with the owner of the premises, and he attests that this bottle is kept within the cellar with the drinks. Rat problem is nasty down there, or so I heard.”
“I see. So, if the murder took place last night, and there’s no way of anyone entering or leaving the establishment…then it has to be one of these people.”
‘These people’ referred to the people who stood by, watching the proceedings with curiosity on their faces. Ten people stayed overnight at Thornbush Mansion; and one of them committed a murder most foul.
“It seems so,” the policeman said. “Unless ghosts and poltergeists have started committing crimes, of course. One of these people did the deed, and to be frank, we’re at a total loss as to who–”
“It was the butler.”
Everyone — even the police — looked at Hall in surprise.
“But…” the policeman continued. “How are you so sure?”
“It had to be the work of someone who knew the location and contents of the bottle. Given the window of the murder was during the five-minute break between events, it had to be a quick get-out, grab, and poisoning of the victim’s drink.”
“It could have been anyone,” sneered the butler. “Anyone can pour poison.”
“Yes, but only you could have committed it. Given the evening events for the mansion, nobody would have a reason to come down to the cellar. Even if they did, they would have passed by such a nondescript bottle and assumed it was just alcohol. Nobody in their right minds would automatically assume a non-labelled beer bottle left in a cellar amongst hundreds of similar brethren would contain poison.
“It could only have been committed by someone who knew, beforehand, that the inconspicuous bottle in the cellar wasn’t beer, but was, in fact, rat poison. The only person who could have done it was you. Well?”
The butler shrugged. “Suppose the game is up. Yes, it was me.”
“Alright then. Take him away.”
As the policeman cuffed the butler’s hands behind his back, the butler gave Hall a particularly nasty glare. “Thanks for ruining everything, by the way.”
“I didn’t ‘ruin’ anything. I just put a murderer into custody, where he belongs.”
“No, you definitely ruined everything. Do you have any idea how much mystery there was behind this murder? Do you have any idea as to the motive? The backstory? The heart-rending yet bittersweet history of my life that lead up to this point?”
“I’m sure we can get all that in interrogation.”
“But that’s not the point! It was going to be a whole string of clues that leads to an uncovering of a mysterious and intriguing criminal underbelly! There was going to be a gang boss and everything, for goodness sakes!”
One of the other guests of the mansion gasped in horror. “Spoilers!” she exclaimed.
“It was going to be a damn riveting adventure, and you’ll be scratching your noggin for days, and I even had it set up so you’ll fight a shadowy assailant in a clock tower at the dead of night. It was going to be thrilling! And your annoyingly precise brain ruined it!”
“I’m sure I did,” Hall said. “Take him away, I’ve heard enough.”
The police did so.
“Well, then.” Hall clapped his hands together, beaming a smile at the other patrons. “I’m glad we managed to solve that. I bet you’re all feeling very relieved.”
They weren’t. They all looked like they had paid full price for a premium theatre ticket and got a school play.
“Well that was a load of tosh,” one guest said. “A whole load of mystery and intrigue, ruined in five minutes.”
“I’d say so too,” another one said. “Honestly, what kind of murder mystery was that? Just straight-up pointed out the murderer at the beginning and had him arrested. If this were a novel, it’d flop the moment it hit the shelves.”
“I just potentially saved your lives!” Hall spat.
“Maybe so, but you could have at least given us some time to think about who did it. To be frank, I had all my bets on Jacqueline. Suspected her right from the start.”
The large, frumpy woman that was presumably Jacqueline gave a disgruntled snort.
“Well,” Hall said, unsure as to why he was the one defending himself. “Perhaps if the killer didn’t use such an obvious method that pinned all the evidence on him, I wouldn’t have worked it out so soon.”
“Ah! Yes, I suppose that’s valid. Nothing ruins a good mystery like pegging the murderer on the first clue presented. That’s a shame. Well, no matter; I’ve got another dinner coming up within the month, and the host has a grudge on most of the guests. I’m sure there’ll be a better head-scratcher of a murder happening there.”
“Same here,” said another. “I’ve got a frankly suspicious invitation to inherit a vast sum of money from a ‘distant relative’ I’ve never even heard of. Definitely some sort of ploy to get myself and others all under the same roof. Can’t wait to see how that one pans out. Been needing a good mystery for a while now.”
“Well, now that this mystery is ruined,” said yet another, “I don’t see much point staying here. Shall we be off?”
With disgruntled nods and shuffles, everyone left for their rooms, presumably to pack. Detective Hall was left alone at the crime scene, with nobody to keep him company bar the victim.
“Well,” he said to himself. “I think I did a good job, at any rate.”